Your heart needs plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep it strong and healthy, but you might not know which ones are the most important. To help you make informed decisions, we’ve put together this list of the best heart vitamins to consume. Whether you want to lower your risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular complications or you need help with cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other conditions that affect your heart, these vitamins will be able to help you out.
Best Heart Vitamins
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an essential part of any heart-healthy diet. In fact, it’s the most crucial vitamin for the heart.
It’s a cardioprotective vitamin that offers antioxidant benefits to protect the heart in different ways, including:
Preventing inflammation of the coronary artery:
Eating foods rich in vitamin E may help lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which has been linked to inflammation and heart disease risk.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that destroys harmful free radicals that form when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol combines with oxygen in the process of oxidation.
Oxidized LDL causes inflammation and damages the inner linings of the coronary artery (the main artery supplying the heart), leading to the formation of plaques.
Over time, plaque accumulation can lead to partial or total obstruction of the coronary artery. This cuts off blood supply which translates to minimal or no oxygen supply to the heart muscles, leading to ischemia and coronary artery disease.
Lowering blood pressure:
The plaques that form due to LDL oxidation narrow other arteries supplying different parts of the body. This results in an increase in blood pressure to force-pump blood to the rest of the body.
Those who eat high levels of vitamin E are also less likely to develop calcification in their arteries than those who don’t get enough of it from their diets.
Vitamin E can improve blood vessel dilation, increasing blood flow, which helps lower your blood pressure/
Thinning the blood, thus preventing clots:
Vitamin E is a natural blood thinner. This helps prevent clot formation that may travel to the heart, causing a heart attack or stroke.
A Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS) found a 50 percent reduction in heart attacks in individuals who took a vitamin E supplement.
However, don’t exceed the recommended daily intake, especially if taking a supplement, because excess vitamin E can interfere with vitamin K functions and cause bleeding.
Reducing the risk of arterial fibrillation:
According to a study published in the American Heart Association Journal, low serum vitamin E levels are associated with arterial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes an irregular and often rapid heartbeat.
Though not life-threatening to a healthy individual, arterial fibrillation may facilitate complications such as ischemic stroke in those with atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or in someone with a valve problem.
What is the best type of vitamin E?
The best type of vitamin E to consume is tocotrienols as opposed to tocopherols because it works faster and has more powerful antioxidant properties.
There are different types of tocotrienols and tocopherols; however, the most important part of the vitamin E complex should involve tocotrienols.
Vitamin E is present in wheat and wheat flour; however, the vitamin E in wheat flour and its products is always oxidized due to exposure to oxygen and heat.
Other best sources of vitamin E include almonds, beet greens, sunflower seeds, collard greens, spinach, avocado, squash, and kiwifruit.
Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds, collard greens, spinach, kiwifruit, squash, beet greens, avocados, and olive oil. Some experts even recommend taking a supplement if you aren’t getting enough vitamin E through your diet. However, talk with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot produce and has to be obtained through food or supplement.
It promotes heart health by decreasing high homocysteine levels that have been linked to heart problems, including atherosclerosis and heart disease.
This vitamin also helps the body absorb magnesium, a mineral that regulates blood pressure, maintains a regular heart rhythm, and prevents your arteries from hardening.
Deficiencies are less common but can still occur.
One study found that low levels of B6 in the blood had a doubled risk of developing heart disease compared to individuals with normal vitamin B6 levels.
Best sources include wheat germ, bananas, oats, carrots, sweet potatoes, pistachios, and avocados.
3. Folate (vitamin B9)
Your brain, nervous system, and heart all need folate to function at their best. In fact, your heart beats in a regular rhythm thanks to folate’s ability to calm nerves. Having insufficient levels of folate is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Just like vitamin B6, vitamins B9 work to lower high homocysteine levels, an amino acid known to cause heart disease when in excessive amounts.
Getting enough folate from food or supplements can reduce your risk of these cardiovascular conditions by up to 40 percent. Good sources include leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and legumes. Aim for 400 micrograms per day.
According to research, combining vitamin B6 with folate offers more efficient results.
In a systemic review, combining vitamin B6 and folate reduced the risk for coronary heart disease in the general population.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another vitamin that may lower the risk of heart disease and improve heart health.
It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help improve circulation and lower your risk of heart disease. It also works to flush toxins from your body, which is crucial to avoiding heart disease.
If you’re suffering from high cholesterol or hypertension, try increasing your vitamin C intake and consider taking supplements. You can never have too much vitamin C since it’s a water-soluble vitamin, and any extra gets eliminated through urine.
In one meta-analysis of studies done over ten years, a daily intake of 700mg of vitamin C had a reduced risk of heart disease by 25 percent compared to those who did not take the supplement.
In another study, consuming 500mg of vitamin C daily decreased blood triglycerides by 20.1 mg/dl and bad cholesterol (LDL) by 7.9 mg/dl.
Vitamin C also boosts the absorption of iron in the body. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body and the heart muscles.
The best plant sources for vitamin C include citrus fruits such as grapefruit and oranges, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, kale, spinach, and kiwifruit.
5. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 may be more important than any other nutrient to heart health. It helps regulate calcium in your bloodstream, which can lower your risk of calcification in major arteries. A recent study found that people with higher levels of K2 had nearly 70 percent less artery calcification.
In one observational study, people with a high intake of vitamin k2 had a 52 percent reduced risk of developing arterial calcification and a 57 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease.
Vitamin K 2 is available in fermented foods like sauerkraut. Other plant foods only contain vitamin K1, which has not shown any heart beneficial benefits as much as k2.
However, keep in mind that if you have cancer or are taking blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), talk to your doctor before supplementing with vitamin K2.
You also want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and magnesium; low levels of these nutrients can interfere with how well your body absorbs K2.
Getting at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily is essential for good bone health—and it will also help improve your absorption of K2. Magnesium is another mineral that impacts K2 absorption; aim for 400–500 mg per day by eating plenty of leafy greens and other magnesium-rich foods. Try including some high-magnesium foods in every meal, such as spinach, avocado, almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate. As always, speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or supplementation routine.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is known to lower cholesterol, the leading risk factor for cardiovascular conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
A 2013 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that low concentrations of vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) are linked to an increased risk of fatal coronary heart disease. Aim to get 10 mg or more of vitamin B3 each day by including nuts, seeds like pumpkin seeds, spices like cumin, legumes, and whole grains in your diet
7. Vitamin D
According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, nearly 20 percent of people in developed countries are deficient in vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and heart failure. Take action and protect your heart health by boosting your vitamin D intake.
The best way to get vitamin D is from natural sources like sunlight. And, that’s where most of us are going wrong. When we slather on sunscreen to avoid wrinkles and skin cancer, we block our bodies’ production of vitamin D. Try to spend some time outside every day—just 15 minutes in direct sunlight with no sunscreen can give you about 20% of your daily requirement.
If you don’t have access to natural light, take a supplement. Your body absorbs vitamin D more easily when it comes in pill form than when it comes from food (though many foods do contain small amounts). Take 400 IU per day if you’re under 50 years old; 600 IU if you’re over 50. Be sure to also watch out for signs of toxicity, such as nausea or vomiting.
8. Vitamin A
You may know Vitamin A best by its role in eye health, but it’s actually vital to cardiovascular health as well. The body needs vitamin A to produce HDL cholesterol, which is known as good cholesterol and helps remove plaque from arteries.
Since low levels of HDL increase heart disease risk, getting enough Vitamin A can lower your chances of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, studies show that people who get adequate amounts of Vitamin A have reduced rates of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and coronary artery disease.
While you can get plenty of Vitamin A from foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale, there are also supplements available. If you take a supplement, make sure to look for one with beta-carotene rather than retinol; research shows that beta-carotene is better at increasing blood levels of HDL cholesterol. Don’t go overboard though—excessive doses of Vitamin A can be toxic. Talk to your doctor about how much is right for you.
9. Vitamin B12
People who suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency tend to have higher levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can cause damage to blood vessels. To lower your homocysteine levels and improve your cardiovascular health, be sure to get enough vitamin B12 in your diet.
While animal foods are high in this nutrient, anyone on a plant-based diet may want to take a supplement since plant sources are minimal, and they can’t offer enough to meet your daily requirements. Nonetheless, you can still incorporate B12 rich foods like sauerkraut and nutritional yeast into your diet to boost your intake.
In addition, vitamin B12 is used to synthesize hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in your blood. Vitamin B12 also assists in metabolism and maintaining mental and emotional health.
Takeaway on heart vitamins:
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and it’s vital to keep it healthy. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; taking care of your heart will reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke significantly.
While diet is a significant element in promoting heart health, targeting specific heart health nutrients such as vitamins will help strengthen the heart even more.
Some heart health vitamins to consume include vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin K2.
Though these vitamins exist as supplements, plant sources are also available and most recommended.
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